With Abraham Lincoln’s Day soon upon us, HG has been thinking about the Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, the Grand Old Party. HG’s thoughts are dire. The party that once stood for rational conservatism and provided a needed check upon government powers, has descended to the lowest level of cowardice. More and more it could be likened to a large pile of excreta. Consider its latest outrage. Our so called President, Der Trumperer, acknowledged International Holocaust Remembrance Day without any mention of Jews and Hitler’s “final solution”, the total extermination of Europe’s Jewish population. Yes, it is proper to remember that the Third Reich consigned many others to death camps. Among them were Gays. Romanys. Political opponents. The physically impaired. Etc., etc. However, the words “The Holocaust”, refer specifically to the Nazi murder of some 6,000,000 Jews. International Holocaust Remembrance Day was created to honor the memory of those murdered Jews and to warn against future genocide. Was Steve Bannon,behind Der Trumperer’s omission? Quite possible. When Der Trumperer’s senior adviser was running Breitbart News, he said it provided a platform for the Alt Right a.k.a White Supremacists a.k.a. Nazis. The Republicans in Congress had a chance to remedy Der Trumperer’s injustice. Rep. Joe Crowley (D.-NY) called for a vote in the House of Representatives on a resolution sponsored by 100 Democrats emphasizing that the Nazis targeted Jews during The Holocaust and requesting the White House to affirm that fact. The lumps of filth a.k.a. Republican Congressmen. blocked the effort in a party line vote. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said the Republican Party, was “in the camp of Holocaust denial.” HG agrees. Lincoln weeps.
BSK bought an Instant Pot, a miraculous pressure cooker that cooks food in a fraction of the time the food would spend in the oven. And, it tastes good. On Super Bowl day, BSK used the Pot to make savory pulled pork. And, on this chilly New Mexico day (65 degrees yesterday and 35 degrees today), BSK made congee in the Instant Pot. For the uninitiated, congee is Asian rice porridge (also called “jook”). It is a wonderfully soothing comfort food. BSK enhanced the congee with ginger and dried Chinese shiitake mushrooms (they plumped up beautifully). Tossed in a few scallions. When served, the steaming bowls got a topping of chopped scallions, a splash of sesame oil and a scattering of salted peanuts. HG had sumptuous refills. Perfect dining after watching HG’s beloved New York Knicks defeat the mighty San Antonio Spurs. HG still loves Noo Yawk, Noo Yawk. One of Der Trumperer’s lackeys called New York the “people’s republic.” It is, indeed. Long may it reign.
HG/BSK watched the searing Ken Burns documentary, “The Central Park Five” and, once more, were made aware of the depth of American racism and the vicious tactics of police in forcing confessions from unfortunate, young, minority men. Permit HG to refresh your memory: On April 19, 1989 a young, white female jogger in New York’s Central Park was raped and brutally beaten. Five young men, ages 14 to 16, were present in the park that night. Four of the youngsters were African-American and the fifth was Puerto Rican. Seized by police, the frightened and befuddled youngsters underwent 36 sleepless hours of aggressive interrogation. They subsequently made televised confessions to the crime. As one youngster said: “We’d say anything. We just wanted to go home.” In trials of May 1, 1989 and December, 1990 all were found guilty and sentenced to prison terms of five to fifteen years. The evidence against them was inconclusive. DNA analysis did not link any of the young men to the victim and the crime scene. Some years later, another man, a convicted rapist and murderer, confessed to the crime. His confession with an abundance of circumstantial details left no doubt that he was the actual attacker of the young woman. After rigorous analysis by then New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and his staff, the Central Park Five were freed. Later, they won a $41,000,000 suit against New York City for false arrest and imprisonment, the sum of $1,000,000 for each of the collective 41 years they spent in prison. This sad miscarriage of justice provided an early insight to the character of our so called President, Der Trumperer. In 1989, Der Trumperer was a publicity hungry real estate developer. On April 19, 1989, the future Der Trumperer took full page ads in the leading New York newspapers one month before the trial of The Five. These inflammatory ads (defense lawyers said they influenced the juries) called for the “death penalty for criminals of every age.” Furthermore, the ads stated “criminals must be told that their civil rights ended when an attack on our safety begins.” In connection with the ads, he told television interviewer Larry King: “Maybe hate is what we need if we’re gonna get something done.” And that’s the essence of Der Trumperer: Disregard and contempt for the law, glorification of hate and a huge bill at the end of the day for ignoring our Constitution.
HG has often faced moral conundrums. Can HG enjoy cod even though worldwide supplies are diminishing? Yes. Can art be separated from politics and despicable opinions? HG chooses art. HG is transported by music conducted by Herbert Von Karajan despite the conductor’s membership in the Nazi party. HG relishes the short fiction of Roald Dahl despite Dahl’s anti-semitism. HG also admires the prose of the French author and virulent anti-semite, Louis-Ferdinand Celine (“Journey to the End of the Night”.) The philosopher and political commentator Bernard Henri-Levy summed up the contradiction by noting a man can be “a great author” and “a complete bastard.” On a far lesser scale of values, HG is an admirer of Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback, despite Brady’s alleged support of Adolf Trump, our so called President. (A President who could talk about the Holocaust and not mention Jews). As an informed long time football fan, HG considers Brady the greatest quarterback in football history. That opinion was confirmed by Brady’s dissection of Atlanta in the stirring Super Bowl comeback. Thus, the traditional Super Bowl viewing and food fest at David F.’s was a joy. Much vodka and red wine. A big sliced ham and all the fixings. BSK’s contribution was pulled pork made in the miraculous Instant Pot pressure cooker. The pork was cooked in an hour and fifteen minutes rather than the hours of oven cooking. Delicious when rolled in a warm tortilla and topped with tomatillo salsa. (Ah, HG’s beloved BSK is the Brady of home cooking).
HG has been reading Adolf Hitler’s biography and am startled (and distressed) how closely Der Trumperer is following the Hitler/Goebbels agenda. Everything is a lie except if pronounced by Der Trumperer and his ludicrous lackeys, Kellyanne and Spicer. There is no truth, only “alternate facts.” Unfavorable polls are “fake.” Unfavorable news is “fake news.” Judges who rule against Der Trumperer’s edicts are not really judges. They are “so called” judges. The media, traditional watchdog of the people, essential in a functioning democracy, is “the opposition”, “corrupt”, “dishonest.” The American intelligence agencies are incompetent unless they agree with Der Trumperer’s views. HG asks the basic question. Are millions of voting Americans racist, homophobic, misogynist, xenophobic, theocratic? If so, they have a leader they can love, one who reflects the dark underbelly of hate in America. Very frightening. HG takes heart from the gestures from abroad. The Speaker of Britain’s House of Commons refusing to let Der Trumperer address Parliament. The march against Islamaphobia on Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island (population 146,000). Some 2,000 people showed up on a bitterly cold day to assert their solidarity with Canada’s Islamic communities. HG/BSK are proud to have their summer home on this gentle island which is dotted with scores of churches. It seems true Christian and humanist principles are alive here.
As HG writes today, a very versatile Mexican handyman is busy repairing many things at HG/BSK’s New Mexico compound. If it’s broke this hard working guy can fix it. At a fair price. With a big smile. This sums up HG’s happy relations with Mexican emigres. Some are citizens. Some are legal emigres. Some are undocumented. And, some can trace their New Mexico residence for some 400 years. There are some with Jewish roots. Their ancestors fled Mexico during the Spanish Inquisition. HG/BSK live in a world dominated by Latinos of all varieties. HG/BSK’s banker, landscaper, plumber, electrician, housekeeper and aforementioned handyman are all Latinos (Most are bi-lingual but a few speak only Spanish). The local supermarket is staffed by Latinos (plus some Native Americans) and carries a stunning variety of salsas and Mexican spices. HG dines frequently at local restaurants (El Parasol and Sopaipilla Factory) that serve Mexican Food (With some unique New Mexican flourishes). These are warm and welcoming establishments. HG/BSK are continually aware of the religious devotion and family love exemplified by their Mexican-American neighbors. So, why is Der Trumperer brawling with Mexico? It all started with his labeling Mexican emigres as rapists and drug dealers. And, his craziness continues to escalate. The Great Wall of Trump will not solve the drug problem. Just part of the futile, expensive “war on drugs.” Americans have a voracious appetite for illegal narcotics. They will be supplied. Drug crimes will continue and more and more prisons will be built and filled. The facts seem simple. Drug addiction is not a criminal problem. It is a medical problem. Treatment and efficient legalization of narcotics is the remedy. There are many troubling racist aspects of our misguided narcotics and immigration policies. Just part of America’s slide into Fascism.
What a great day. A day unique in American history. Yes, BSK and all of her pals were in downtown Santa Fe for the Woman’s March (the crowd was beyond all expectations). HG, a bit under the weather, couldn’t attend. Watched the Washington march on TV and was moved by the passion and fiery eloquence of the speakers. HG is convinced that the march isn’t a one-shot. There is real commitment to organize, vote, fight and obstruct this swine who has usurped the Presidency with the help of Putin. Typical of this pig on a day of the largest protest in American history, Mr. Oink launched an attack on the media for underestimating his inauguration crowd. And during his CIA appearance, Piggy characterized his deprecation of the intelligence services as as example of media untruth. Will his attacks on the media go beyond words? Let’s not mince words. Trump is a proto-Fascist. And his “Alt Right” supporters are Nazis. As an American Jew my answer to Trump and his Nazi and dictator pals is: “Never Again.” This is a crisis point in American history. Today was heartening. But, this is just the beginning of a fight to save the American democracy. As, HG writes this, HG is suffering hunger pangs: HG’s dinner preparations are delayed as HG waits for BSK to return from a community meeting. BSK is organizing opposition to electrical towers that would injure the environment, create health risks and despoil religious sites. BSK was at Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” historic moment in Washington. BSK picketed, protested and organized to battle the needless, futile Vietnam War. And, there’s lots of fight and smarts left in BSK. And, she’s not the only one. Get Ready Piggy.
The HG/BSK multi-ethnic clan (Italian, English, Welsh, Jewish, Belorussian, Japanese) celebrated Hanukkah (Handsome Haru lit the candles) by reprising their Christmas Eve feast of Jewish smoked fish (from New York’s Russ & Daughters). A delicious family custom was observed. SJ made a big platter of wonderful potato pancakes. Best latkes ever — crisp, light and not leaden with oil. Lesley R. added crepes. HG had potato pancakes covered with slices of sable, chopped onions, creme fraiche. SJ growled with pleasure as he covered his latkes with creme fraiche, wasabi tobiko and salmon roe. Crepes got a similar treatment with smoked salmon. The rest of the family did their own variations. HG drank icy vodka with beer chasers (early bedtime). Dessert was a wonderful flan provided by a lady of Portuguese ancestry. Topped with whipped cream, it was (HG had to admit) better than any flan HG had consumed in New Mexico.
Arrived in Riverside, R.I. a few days ago, and HG/BSK (and Handsome Haru) were greeted by loving Lesley, Massimo, Sofia and Arianna (plus Pip, the doggy with the high IQ). Lucky HG/BSK to have such a splendid family. Among the delights was a reunion with Toby, The Wonder Dog, unscathed after his lengthy voyage aboard United. There was ambiguity in Toby’s welcome of HG/BSK. After all, the duo had caged him and abandoned him to United Airlines. However, after a bit the furry little fellow let bygones be bygones and was indulged with numerous belly rubs. Wondrous Lesley R. served a dinner of spicy shrimp and grits (clams and grits for crustacean allergic BSK). Super yums. Platter of flavoful cheese and Harry and David pears. Vodka, red wine and limoncello enlivened HG (before inevitable drowse). Christmas food shopping the next day. Lesley R. had sourced (online) a home style Vermont organic ham smoked over corn cobs. Served it for dinner. Delicious. It was a ham from the past when ham tasted like ham and not meat infused with water, sugar, chemicals, etc. On the table were cole slaw, potato salad, pickles, a variety of mustards plus horse radish. HG, despite family disdain, opted for Whole Foods potato salad rather than the home made variety. HG likes WF’s mayonnaise infused version. However, when in Paris, HG enjoys the oil and vinegar flavored warm potato salad served with grilled saucisson. C’est la vie.
Yes, errors do happen at holiday family feasts. One Christmas, HG/BSK decided to cook a goose rather than a traditional turkey. Very, very tough bird. A chain saw would have come in handy for carving purposes. There was another Christmas when gifted daughter Lesley R. (a talented cook) prepared mushroom soup using dried Italian porcini mushrooms. As the soup cooked worms appeared. Don’t know what Lesley did but the worms disappeared (immersion blender?). The soup was delicious and no one had unpleasant after effects. Another time, Lesley roasted rutabagas all night in the kitchen which opened on HG/BSK’s guest bedroom. HG/BSK awakened smelling like root vegetables. HG’s holiday feast mishaps were caused by alcoholic overindulgence. One New Jersey Thanksgiving, HG greeted guests with a glass of chilled Polish vodka in hand. There were many guests and many glasses of white lightning. HG ended the meal by taking a nap under the table. (withering, but futile, criticism from BSK, who over the years has made only a slight dent in HG’s vodka consumption). And, there was a smoked bluefish, sautéed bay scallop, lobster and just picked corn feast on a Fourth of July celebration at HG/BSK’s salt box home on Nantucket Island. A guest (who was a talented mixologist) made rum punch as an after dinner libation. HG insisted that his punch have black rum floating on top. Yes, there was black rum on top and HG ended, once again, snoozing beneath the table. Restraint? Moderation? HG will keep these useful words in mind during upcoming festivities.